Jojo Lastimosa: Getting kids to fall in love with sports

Jojo Lastimosa runs the Alaska Power Camp

Jojo Lastimosa runs the Alaska Power Camp

So much has changed in today’s time for kids playing sports. When I was growing up, you pretty much have no choice but to play basketball. Although I was able to learn how to play football and baseball in high school, when I was seven years old, it was just basketball for me.

I didn’t like the game right away, I have to confess. I enjoyed the other games that kids played — patintero, taguan, habulan, and everything else that involved plenty of running. There were other games, but I enjoyed those very much. Basketball had to take a back seat.

Back then, there was no television or video that could entertain us, so we had to look for ways to entertain ourselves, and those games kept us active and outdoors.

I know I share the same nostalgia with people born before or during my time. Those were fun times, when parents would have to look for you for playing outside too much.

These days, it is a challenge for parents to get their kids to play outside. There are a lot of reasons for this, depending on where you live, but generally kids today would rather stay home, play video games or surf than Internet, than play outside.

As parents, we complain when they don’t go out more, but then we are also guilty; who provided them with the video games and the Internet access? I think it’s a big more challenging to be a parent these days. It takes a lot more discipline and communication to catch our children’s attention. The competition has become tougher.

Don’t get me wrong. Technology, in so many ways, has accelerated growth in society, but it has also taken away a lot of human interaction in the equation. I remember how difficult it was to tell a girl that you like her back in the day. You have to have a lot of guts to do so. Now, a simple text message can start a relationship.

The good thing is that today, when it comes to sports, parents have many choices too. If I want my child to learn a new sport, I can pick anything and there is always an available school for a certain discipline. Football has picked up its popularity again and baseball is making headlines also. Martial arts has always given our country a lot of honor. Triathlon has become mainstream all of a sudden.

Despite all these sports blossoming, most young boys dream is still to become the next basketball superstar. I think most boys growing up wanted to play basketball, until they found out that they were not tall enough. There were some, like Johnny Abarrientos, who did not let their height be a hindrance.

I didn’t have proper training growing up. I don’t know if my basketball skills would have been better if I had been taught properly when I was young, but looking at kids these days and how good they are at such a young age makes me wish I had proper training early on. Today, I’m seeing a lot of young boys getting tournament exposure and training before they set foot in grade school.

Child prodigies like Tiger Woods, LeBron Jamesm and our own Kiefer Ravena all got a head start; of course you have to factor in the physical gift and dedication. If you do, you have yourself in your hands a phenom.

Starting early doesn’t necessarily guarantee success but the parent has laid the foundation for the child already, and it’s up to the child whether he would bloom or not. In some cases, parents become hindrances for the child’s progress for meddling or pushing a little bit too much.

Mostly, the formula is just to be moderate in everything; learning when to push or back down and just encourage and cheer. Some children thrive when parents are non-participants. My father was almost non-existent in my growth as a player. He just watched from the sidelines and cheered, never even giving any pointers whatsoever, which was fine by me.

The worst thing a parent can do to a child is make him or her dislike the sport for being overbearing. Again, every child is different. But the most important thing is to first get the child to be interested in sports activity then work from there.

January is always an exciting time for children because summer vacation is only a few months away. Children always look forward to summer mainly because of no school work — unless he or she is taking back subjects.

It’s also a time to learn a new sport or improve on the sport you already know. At this time some parents are already looking for something their children are interested in doing; It could be a vacation to relatives, a trip abroad, art lessons, music lessons… but mostly summer is for learning and playing sports.

Being in sports has a way of getting us excited. Heck we pay a huge amount of money to watch somebody play or beat somebody else silly. Whether a participant or spectator, sports is king. Come this summer, I guarantee that someone is going to learn a new sport and fall in love with it, someone will be better at it, and someone will definitely be more fit. Either way, it’s a win/win situation.

Named one of the PBAs 25 Greatest Players during the leagues silver anniversary in 2000, Jojo Lastimosa currently serves as a sports analyst for the PBA on AKTV broadcast. From time to time, he shares his thoughts in a column here on InterAKTV.

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